Big Dog on Campus

November 13, 2017

What a difference a year makes! Over the past twelve months, our campus has borne witness to many physical changes. We opened the new Center for Teaching and Learning, broke ground for a multi-disciplinary science building, and welcomed the first residents of Pauli Murray and Benjamin Franklin colleges. Yet all the while, stealthily but surely, a physical transformation of another kind has been taking place right before our eyes. Our little bulldog, Handsome Dan XVIII, is all grown up.

When the Olde English Bulldogge—all pudge and wrinkles, with a distinctively freckled nose—began his appointment as Yale’s mascot last fall, he was just shy of two months old, weighing a diminutive 8 lbs. Today, the pup, known to his friends and family as Walter, clocks in at an impressive 48 lbs. (and counting), the better to intimidate our rivals as he stalks the sidelines at The Game this coming weekend. Indeed, from his earliest days in New Haven, he has looked right at home at the Bowl—a fitting affinity for a dog whose name pays homage to Walter Camp, the 1880 Yale College graduate and “father of American football” memorialized in the Walter Camp Gate at the entrance to the athletic complex.

From the time when he was no bigger than a football himself, the eighteenth Handsome Dan showed the gregarious charisma of a true campus leader. When he first visited my office in Woodbridge Hall, he graciously made the social rounds of a throng of staff members eager to meet him. He has been known to join the crowd at the tables down at Mory’s; is a regular cheerleader at team practices and competitions; stole the show at his first Yale Commencement, leading the procession onto Old Campus; and is a stalwart at Yale community events. He has been loved and admired at the annual bone marrow donor registration drive in honor of Mandi Schwartz ’10, opening night at the Connecticut Open, and the annual Founders Day celebration. More often than not, his appearances culminated in a well-deserved nap!

Those of you who have seen him—whether in person or via his wildly popular social media feeds—know that words really do no justice to everyone’s favorite canine. So, I leave you with a slideshow of some highlights from Handsome Dan XVIII’s first year.